Suspension of Disbelief: 7 Failed Flying Machines Before The Wright Brothers

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Suspension of Disbelief: 7 Failed Flying Machines Before The Wright Brothers

Science fiction has a plethora of ideas about what happened in the past and what to expect from the future. Unfortunately, not all of those ideas are exactly plausible in reality. In Suspension of Disbelief, we’ll take a look at the best ideas from sci-fi movies, books, comics and video games to see where (and if) they intersect with the real world.


One of the most striking images from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is that of an Imperial Star Destroyer hanging menacingly in the air over an ancient Jedi city. We’ve never seen the six-million ton ship in-atmosphere before and, to quote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it hangs in the air in much the same way that bricks don’t. Which is to say, its design doesn’t really make any sense for heavier-than-air flight. The largest plane the humans in our galaxy have ever built was the Antonov An-225 Mriya. It weighed 1/10,000 of what the Star Destroyer does and had to conform to the rather specific design that all planes must in order to generate lift, something the Star Destroyer doesn’t bother with.

It took humanity centuries of trial and error to figure out the design and combination of materials and power sources that allow for heavier-than-air flight, and if we expect to ever make something like the Star Destroyer, it’s going to take a few more centuries and a lot more experimentation.

Click through the gallery to see a history of the less-than-successful attempts to build a powered, heavier-than-air flying machine.

Hailing from upstate New York, Cameron Wade is a freelance writer interested in movies, video games, comic books and more. You can find his work at